Thursday, March 22

Proper Education

Hey everyone! I’m Alyson Noël, the author of Faking 19, Art Geeks and Prom Queens, Laguna Cove, Fly Me to the Moon, and the upcoming Kiss & Blog (May 07) and Saving Zoë (September 07). I’ve lived in both Mykonos and Manhattan, only to come full circle and end up right back in the OC, where I was born and raised (and where most of my books take place)!

I’ve just started writing my latest book, the one I call, Untitled #7, when I realized I’ve yet to write a book about summer. Which, when you consider how much I love summer, how I practically live for summer, and how most of my books take place in the OC, which is known for its summers, well, it just doesn’t make any sense. But somehow I always focus on the school year, and to be honest, I pretty much hated the school year.

Hate’s a strong word, I know. That’s why I chose it. Because it sums up, in one crisp syllable, just how I felt about my junior and senior years. Suffocated, bored, apathetic, and disinterested— would also work. Though, like Alex in Faking 19, I wasn’t always that way. I started out well enough with a stint in student government, a host of clubs, and a full schedule of AP classes that kept me somewhat interested.

Then, somewhere around junior year-- I. Just. Stopped. Caring.

Some of it had to do with trouble at home, but most of it had to do with my habit of sneaking off campus so I could hang in L.A.—a place where everything seemed so glamorous and exciting, a place that made my small town seem so small time.

But the one class I never cut was AP English. I had the same teacher both years, and I respected and admired him way too much to ditch. Mr. Sawaya played jazz records, encouraged discussion and debate, he respected our opinions, and he made learning fun. He was the kind of teacher former students kept in touch with and came back to visit.

So when it came time to write the acknowledgments in my debut novel, Faking 19, he was the second person I thanked (right after my mom!). Because little did he know, but the day he read one of my short stories to the class, everything changed. With that one small act I went from feeling lost and unsure, to thinking there just might be a place for me after all. And I wanted him to know he made a difference.

A year ago I visited the school, spoke to his classes, and he took me to lunch. And I’ll never forget how it felt to return to that campus and discover it wasn’t the malevolent place I’d once thought. Sure there were probably cliques, heartbreak, and drama, it’s all part of the process. But I realized that even though I lived for the summers, it was the school year that formed and shaped me the most.

So what about you- did you have a teacher who made a difference- a favorite class- one you would never dream of ditching even if you wouldn’t get caught?


bevrosenbaum said...

Drama class saved my life in high school! And what a coincidence--I'm currently writing a book about a girl whose high school drama class is her refuge!

Hey, we got great material out of the crap, right?

Great post!


Wendy Toliver said...

I enjoyed writing even as a little girl, but I never really pictured myself as an author. I always thought I was more of TV personality or news anchor type. Maybe even a movie star if I played my cards right.(It's okay, you can LOL.)

That's how I saw my future even as I chose my major in college (Speech Com/Broadcast). Fast forward to my exit interview with the dean of my college -- one of the most amazing women I'll ever know. I walked in thinking I'd be the next Katie Couric and walked out thinking something entirely different, but just as inspiring. Her words to me that day are forever etched in my memory: "You'll be doing the world a great disservice if you don't write."

~ Wendy

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

I pretty much always loved my English classes: "Ooh! You're making me read books!"

Alyson Noel said...

Hey Bev-
Yup, it's all about the conflict!

Wendy- Wow, what a life changing statement- so meant to be!

Lauren- I LIVED for me English class, everything else was a blur!

Alex Richards said...

I love all your book covers on the right of the blog. Such good eye candy!
Art was my favorite. I had the most creative freedom, and understanding, openminded teachers.

Kelly Parra said...

I have to say I felt the same during my junior and senior year. I just lost interest. There wasn't much to motivate me, but I had one teacher in economics who made actually learning fun. What? Economics?? haha. I aced the class over tough subjects as world economies and socialism. And all because he was funny and threw us candy bars if we got a question right. I wrote a little about the same class in Graffiti Girl. :) :)

Alyson Noel said...

Hey Alex- Yup, art was another good one, usually with great teachers- I tend to write about English and Art class in my books. . .

Hey Kelly- I might've shown up to Economics if there had been candy- what a great motivator!

Jennifer Lynn Barnes said...

I've wanted to be a writer forever, but in high school, I was as much of a math/science person as an English person. I loved my physics and English classes senior year, and actually think Calculus is really awesome, too... not to sound like a huge dork, but I think classes (and sports) were actually my favorite part of high school.

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